In the month of June the Patriots have found themselves at the center of a media circus. First it was for the signing of Tim Tebow, and now it is because Aaron Hernandez has been arrested and charged with first degree murder and five weapons charges. This comes after a nine-day investigation centering around the tight end and his involvement in the murder of Odin Lloyd, a 27 year old former member of the Boston Bandits. The two were seen at a nightclub together hours before Lloyd’s body was found roughly a mile from Hernandez’s North Attleboro home. He has pleaded not guilty to all charges.
Charged with murder, it’s unclear when and if Aaron Hernandez will take the field again. (FILE:USPresswire)
Hernandez was first named as a person of interest early last week and after initially cooperating with authorities, he went quiet. It came out that he had a cleaning crew come to his home Monday morning and he also smashed his security system and his cell phone before investigators could get to it. Shortly after his arrest on Wednesday he was released by the Patriots. In a statement the team said, “We realize that law enforcement investigations into this matter are ongoing. We support their efforts and respect the process. At this time, we believe this transaction is simply the right thing to do.”
With Hernandez in jail until his next day in court on July 24 for a probable cause hearing, the Patriots are cut short a big chunk of change. Hernandez will account for just about $5 million of this year’s cap hit and $7.5 million in 2014. This comes from the seven year, $41 million contract extension he was awarded before the start of last season. It seemed as if his troublesome ways were behind him and the Patriots took a chance and paid out big. After he received his extension he acknowledged that he had grown up and it seemed as if he had converted to the “Patriot way”.
How quickly things have changed. Less than a year after he signed that major deal, Hernandez’s actions have created more questions than answers. With just under a month until the Patriots open up training camp on July 25, the team has quickly gone from a two tight end set, to a no tight end set. Rob Gronkowkski had surgery on not only his forearm, but also his back this off season and Hernandez was expected to carry the load while he recovered. Now with his release, it’s unclear how the Patriots will adjust the offense.
This case has also called into question the famed “Patriot way”. The Patriots are known for picking character guys who can come in and help bring this franchise a championship. Now it seems as though the Patriots are rewarding players who do not fit that mold. While Hernandez got rich, Wes Welker got the franchise tag. Instead of paying a player who came into New England and did nothing but work hard and walk the line, they let him go as if he was yesterday’s news. Is this because Hernandez was a Patriots product? Were the Patriots looking to show the league that they were able to transform a player who had baggage coming out of college? Whatever the reason, it didn’t work. Reports have surfaced that Hernandez only got more brazen after he inked his new deal. His teammates have spoken about the crowd of people who he chose to hang around with and his lack of comradery with his team. Some have said he never really grew up and never adopted the Patriot way and it isn’t clear why he was rewarded so handsomely.
The Patriots have now found themselves lighter in the wallet and the talk of the NFL. They need to reevaluate the “Patriot way” and from here on out, they should really think twice before they reward a young player again. Hopefully the rest of the league can learn from this and see that while it’s good to take a chance on a guy, know your facts before you pay him the big bucks. It seems like the writing was on the wall with Hernandez and now he’ll have to sit in a Bristol County jail awaiting an uncertain future.